Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day when trans people and their allies remember the many people who have been brutally assaulted or killed for living as the gender that feels right to them.
Myself, I try not to remember too hard. When Lane was a year old and I was nine, I had a recurring waking nightmare, a fearful fantasy that at times I could not help playing over in my mind: that our house would be on fire and that we’d be unable to rescue Lane from the nursery. I was haunted by the thought of our sweet baby, who trusted me without question, standing up and waiting for me to come to the rescue as smoke and flames filled the room, and I stood helplessly outside. It made me sick to my stomach and I had to sing loudly or throw myself into some mental task to chase the image from my mind. My point is, I have always had a deeply protective love for my next-to-youngest sibling.
I discovered I had this handicap when, a few months after Lane announced his intention to transition, there was a news story about the brutal beating of a transman in Baltimore. That’s when it clicked for me, that one of the people I love most in the world has joined a population that is the target, not only of bigotry and prejudice, but of violent hatred. Dwelling on it gives me basically the same feeling that I had as a nine-year-old imagining a house fire that cut off the baby’s room. So I don’t dwell on it.
I have always been horrified at the thought of violence against hate-targeted minorities: whether it’s sexuality, ethnicity, or religion, there’s something especially horrible about the fact that some people’s hatred can be aroused just because of someone else’s identity. But it’s real, and personal, for me now in a way that it wasn’t before last year.
I don’t really have a point or a theory. If someone you love ever comes out as gay, or trans, or moves to a place where their religion or ethnicity is viewed with hostility, you’ll know how I feel. Remembering the transgender victims of violence is important, because it should motivate us all to work to make this world a safe space for everybody who crosses gender barriers. It’s just, for me, I have to remember just a little bit, and then try hard to forget.